Friday, April 4, 2014

Personal story | Living with IBS

So this is something that i have been meaning to post for a while now... I primarily blog about fashion but i see my blog also as a diary for myself to look back on and i don't really talk about myself on here a lot. People may think i have a perfect lifestyle but you only see a snippet of the real me, but it couldn't be further from the truth, and no one really knows what i have to live with on a daily basis, so seeing as it is IBS awareness month i thought i would come forward with my story, and also after reading Scarlett London amazing post on the topic which you can read here, it also made me want to talk about my experience with it and to raise awareness of the illness, as well as hopefully being able to reach out to others who suffer from the same thing and know that you aren't alone. I understand not many people will be interested in this but if you are sitting reading this now then thank you!


So what is IBS?

Firstly IBS for those who aren't already aware stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. It is a common condition of the digestive system and can present a number of digestive related symptoms (i wont go into too much detail here,it differs for everyone). It can also be classed as an invisible illness, i for one have never looked ill from it unless i have had a bad flare up, although the person may not look ill their insides definitely tell a different story. It is also somewhat of a mystery illness, the exact cause of IBS is unknown, but most experts agree it's related to an increased sensitivity of the entire gut, which can occasionally be linked to a prior food-related illness.
These ecards really do make me laugh, you definitely have to make light of the situation in the end!

My story 
I really do not know how to begin with this, so i will cut it down to the bare minimum! I had been suffering with crippling stomach pains and cramps (these are NOT the same as period pains!!),unexpected diarrhoea (sorry for the TMI, i still find talking about it particularly embarrassing..),nausea,fatigue and other equally as lovely digestive problems  for a good couple of years. However, when i started university it was clear that the student lifestyle was not suited to my body and i believe that i have always had IBS to a certain extent since i was younger , yet it was the alcohol and bad diet that made it evident in my every day life that something was not right and it wasnt going away. Last year i lived in Finland for a year which made it impossible for me to visit a doctors to seek help (they barely spoke English), in February 2013 i had to give up drinking alcohol due to the horrible effects that it left me with, as a student there is a massive pressure to drink alcohol and i still long to feel like a normal student and enjoy a night out, i hate to be the one sat with a soft drink while everyone else enjoys fancy cocktails, but when something makes you so ill i would do anything to stop that. It got to the stage that i was having a few sips of alcohol and would be sick with immediate effect and spend the next day in an awful state. I believe that if i continued to drink i definitely would have become seriously ill and end up in hospital. Anyway, i struggled on for my remaining few months in Finland and at this stage i needed urgent help as i was struggling to cope and i didnt know what was wrong with me, i assumed it could be IBS but you always think the worst, and i am awful for self diagnosing on Google!

So in June i had finally made it to the doctors and after ruling out a few other things i was finally diagnosed with IBS, i was so happy that i finally had a diagnosis and it wasnt something more serious, but IBS although not life threatening is a chronic and debilitating disease,i will have to live with this for the rest of my life. I was prescribed with a medicine called mebeverine which after a week i seriously could not believe how much better i felt, but lets just say it was short lived. IBS medications are somewhat one size fits all, everyone has different symptons and triggers so it is impossible for one drug to treat all. Since then i have had many ups and downs but now i'm just going to fast forward to the start of this year.

I have never spoken about being ill before, although i was slightly absent in January on the blog front due to this. In January i suddenly became very poorly for no reason of which i know. I could barely eat because i felt so sick,my whole stomach was sore to touch, i had agonising cramps and it was even too hard to walk, i was passing blood in the toilet and i had also lost over 2 stone in weight since the summer (doctors never listened to my concerns about my weight and would say it was down to stress), something which most girls dream of but which was my worst nightmare as i now currently fall into the underweight category, so this was a massive cause of concern as i certainly never stint on food and had always weighed around 8-9 stone since i was 15/16! This week was undoubetdly the worst week of my life, i went back and forth to the hospital for yet more tests and more misdiagnoses all while i was so concerned about uni as i am currently in my last and very important year! Again many things were ruled out, and at this point i had no idea that it had anything to do with my IBS. Everything had flared up so badly that i was looking for something more serious to be wrong with me, but the problem pointed to my bowels so again i was wondering what else it could be that was making me so ill. A few weeks passed while i waited to be seen, it does not help how gastrointestinal problems are so common in todays society because it means you have to wait ages to be seen, even as long as 3 weeks if its an urgent case. In the meanwhile i improved a little bit but i was still not right and i was doing my best to continue going to uni in the meanwhile,i also was unable to keep up my training at the pool which is so unlike me. Luckily my friends knew that i wasnt well but none of them truly understood what i was going through as i constantly had to put on a brave face. About a month ago i had a colonoscopy and an endoscopy which was one of the worst and painful experiences i have ever been through, i would not wish that on my worst enemy! I patiently waited a few weeks for the biopsies to come back and luckily the results came back clear of IBD and coeliac disease.  I have never understood how an illness so debilitating and painful to a persons insides can then appear completely healthy in a colonoscopy, i think i thought it would be something else because i didnt realise IBS could be so severe, but it is,IBS is a real thing! Dont get me wrong i was so incredibly thankful not to have an even worse illness but there was that part of me that willed it to be something else so i could obtain proper treatment and to have a condition that there is more knowledge about. 

Remaining positive and looking to the future 
So fast forward to today and i am still struggling by, im currently waiting to see a dietician and my consultant again, as well as trying to finish my degree.But looking back to January i didnt even think i would be able to finish my degree so i am so lucky to have got a little bet better since then. Im currently not taking any medication because i dont see what the point is in putting something into my body everyday for the rest of my life that doesnt work. Im also adusting my diet, i was informed to remove all fruit from my diet and most vegetables which has dramatically improved my stomach movements which is amazing as i am no longer worrying about where the nearest toilet is, although i am still left with daily crippling stomach pains, a lack of appetite, nausea and other digestive issues but i have found one of my worst triggers which is chocolate, i am going to have to cut that out for the forseeable future which is going to be so hard as its fair to say i have an addiction to it, its funny the saying that the things you crave the most are the worst things for you, its is definitely true in my case! Hopefully with the help of a dietician i will also be able to put some much needed weight back on. I would also not be where i am today without the most supportive family and boyfriend as i could not have continued to be as positive about my condition without them. But i am trying my best to get by and as i said before remaining positive, i know i wont be cured in a day but i long for one to be found and to get better in time. IBS has affected so much in my daily life, work wise,socially and in my personal life and it has stopped me from doing so many things that i have wanted to do or previously done in the past, so here is to stopping this chronic stomach condition and to dictating my life anymore! 
Well done if you made it to the end, it was a long one!! I really appreciate you reading this! If any of you suffer from similar symptoms do seek help as i wished i had done a long time ago, please get in touch in the comments below or even on my email, if you suffer from IBS i would love to hear from you, it really does help talking to someone who is going through the same thing!

Do you suffer or know someone who suffers from IBS? How do you keep your IBS under control? Do you suffer from a similar illness? Link me up if you have done similar posts to this,lets help raise awareness!
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34 comments

  1. Wow, what an amazing story. I don't think people really understand what an illness can do to you. I admire you so so much!!
    xxxx

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    1. Thank you SO much Daisy :D i really appreciate your kind words :) xxx

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  2. I think your so brave talking about this! I can't imagine how difficult it must be to live with something like this... but if you ever need someone to talk to I'm here :) Gisforgingers xx

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    1. Thank you SO much Claire :D I really appreciate your comment and i know where to find you if i need a chat :) xx

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  3. This is such an amazing and inspirational post babe! you must be so proud of yourself for finally posting! Well done babe, stay positive xx

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    1. Thanks you Tanya! I was so scared about posting it but so glad i have, it feels great to get it out into the open! Thanks so much for your kind words :) xxx

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  4. Absolutely loved this post- so personal! More people should be as positive as you :)

    Holly xo
    themediareel.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. Thank you so much Holly! Its not easy but you don't get anywhere without positivity :) xx

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  5. I had to read this because I can totally relate to it. I feel your excruciating curl-in-a-ball pain!
    I always find myself asking why it can't be Brussels sprouts that are the trigger.Why all the delicious foods?!!
    The trouble is knowing that a flare up will spiral worse and worse. Its often stress related and then you stress about the IBS and it gets even worse... Urgh!
    I find copermin life saving. It's peppermint oil.

    Hope you find the right balance for you!

    Kimberley x

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    1. Im so sorry you also suffer from this :( But its great to be able to talk to others who do! haha that did make me laugh i know right has to be the nice cakes and chocolates that upsets me! Yes its an absolute vicious circle which is so hard to break out off! Now i have heard about peppermint oil so i will definitely give that a try! Thanks so much for commenting :) xx

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  6. Heeeey! I'm here, on my laptop :D haha.

    This is a great post Nicole and totally relatable to loads of people! I didn't even know I was having these symptoms, I just thought it was normal and then my family started talking to me about it who had the condition and I was encouraged to go and get help.

    You know the sicky feeling you get when you drink? I used to get that the day after, but I'd spend the WHOLE day in bed and I thought that was a normal hangover, then I drank cider one night for a whole night and well, you can imagine! Then I knew I had to go to the docs, the cramps are so so painful too. Also, I found myself saying no to my friends when they wanted to go out because I couldn't bare not drinking and I didn't want to tell them because it is embarrassing, but as soon as I told them they told me off for not telling them and were so understanding, so now I'm not afraid to just drink water! :)

    This post has made me think about fruit and veg...didn't even consider they might be worsening everything. So thanks for that, thanks for sharing your story too, it's hard to diagnose and it's hard to realise something is wrong if you don't suffer with it badly (like me) so hopefully it might encourage people who read who have similar problems that they too need to go to the doctor :)

    Loved reading this! I'll be doing more living with type posts too :)

    Natalie xxx
    Big Society Girl

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    1. Hey hehe :) Thank you for a lovely comment! I know i felt exactly the same thinking it was normal until it just got so out of hand! Oh i know exactly what you mean about the sicky feeling its so horrible :( It seems so many people with IBS have the same problem with alcohol. I was the same i definitely feel when you tell people they c ompletely understand and it also makes you feel a lot better about the situation!

      The problem is the media always go on about having 7 portions of fruit a day but this is not good for everyone! Things like sweetcorn/peas are the worst for it and it has dramatically helped my bowel movements cutting it out!

      Thanks so much Natalie! I hope the doctors sort you out soon and i really look forward to reading yours in the future :) xxx

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  7. Great post Nicole,

    Really pleased you've had the confidence to talk openly about this and hopefully it'll help others who suffer from IBS or even those who have symptoms but aren't quite sure what is wrong.

    Albertine x x

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    1. Thanks so much Albertine! After reading your personal posts that certainly helped to inspire me to write my own :) And i am so glad ive finally spoken out about it too as its really helped and as you say raise awareness for others too! xxx

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  8. WOOHOOO well done Nicole !! What a great post.Honestly I wasn't too sure about the whole meaning around IBS ... so thank you for informing me about the illness.Secondly I barely know you but I'm so proud of you for doing this,I can't imagine how many people you could be helping by just sharing some information around an illness like this.It wont just help people who suffer from it but in fact you could be helping relatives or friends understand the meaning behind 'IBS' so well done , you deserve an award for talking about such a personal thing !! I hope things work out and you soon feel a little better :) x
    Lots of love ,
    Cait || http://copycattt.blogspot.ie/

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    1. Aww thanks so much hun and for being so supportive on twitter about it :) A lot of people arent aware of what it is exactly so im glad i explained that well! Definitely it has helped me open up about it so much and so many people have already come forward about it :) Thank you so much for your kind words i really appreciate it :) xxx

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  9. Such an amazing post, it's so inspiring to hear you talk with such honesty and realism about a very personal problem - sharing this info is so important and will help so many people reading realise that they aren't alone!! I'm so glad you're starting to feel better and staying positive, so important and you really are an inspiration!! :-) xxx

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    1. Thank you so much Holly :) Yes exactly i wanted to be able to reach out to others who can relate to one another and it has really helped me to open up about it! Thanks soo much i really appreciate your kind words :) xxx

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  10. Thank you so much for sharing beautiful, it's really hard to open up about something as personal as this, but I think you're really brave, I have a lot of side effects like this and I really would never have said anything/opened up etc but the fact that you've done a whole post and you're learning to cope with it and not let it control you is amazing, good for you. xxxx

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    1. Thank you so much! Your personal post a while back really inspired me too and it definitely helpes to get it off your chest! Side effects to drugs are horrible too :( Yes im not letting the illness define me anymore, thanks so much for your kind words as always :) xxx

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  11. Great post! i too have IBS and have done since I was 14 (now 26) and it's got to the stage where it actually effects/ruins my life everyday whenever I eat.. I'm constantly in pain, and there never seems to be a pattern on the food types that cause it! I totally feel your pain xxx

    Gemma ♥ | Miss Makeup Magpie

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    1. Oh no poor you thats not nice :( I know people dont realise but it can have a bad impact on your daily life and i agree i kept a food diary and there was no pattern it is so erratic! So glad you can relate to this and i hope you find the right balance soon and get better, although i know its not that easy! xxx

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  12. Very brave well done for raising awareness. Hopefully someday soon there will be more personalised and effective treatment stay positive! x

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    1. Thank you so much! Me too raising awareness is the best way to do this,thanks for commenting really appreciate it :) xxx

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  13. Yep, this sounds far too familiar! Sounds like you have it really bad :( I can't eat a single drop of wheat, gluten and barley without being in unbearable pain and very ill but I count myself lucky the symptoms are more under control now. Can't eat certain things either without knowing what's going to happen. It's mad knowing how much it effects your life and that people don't understand how bad it can be, well done for speaking out like this- I couldn't do it xo

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    1. Poor you :( I have seen on twitter a few times you are gluten intolerant which is horrible, i luckily dont suffer from that but im glad you now know what to avoid, although there are many other food triggers we dont know about! I know i think myself i didnt realise how bad it could be! Thank you so much it has definitely helped me to come out about it and thanks for your kind words and im very glad your condition is now under control :) xxx

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  14. Wow I never knew a thing before this post! Well done for being so honest, it will help others who also suffer realise they are not alone and raise awareness. I know what it's like to have an "invisible illness/problem", I did a personal blog post about my depression and at first I was really unsure about how people would react, but it was all positive like here :) I hope it improves a little over the next few months!

    Laura Likes Beauty xxx

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    1. Thank you so much :) A lot of people dont so im glad im educating more people on the illness! Well done you for posting about that too, think i will go and have a read of that now, i really do find them so inspiring and it helps so much to talk about it! Thank you so much :) xxx

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  15. Great post people just don't realise how horrible and painful it can be especially bosses when you have to take time out from work because you cannot literally move from the toilet xx

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    1. Thank you so much! I know people do not understand but if they were also going through it it would be a different story! Hopefully when i get a job after uni my boss will be understanding!.. xx

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  16. thank you so much for sharing your story!although I wish no one had ibs, it is nice when you see that there are other people that can understand your situation!I have ibs for almost eleven years now and still trying to find ways to treat it and don't give up!I can definitely tell you, that by the passing of the years it gets better, though I still struggle with it the most days!change of diet didn't really work for me, but I can say that something that really worked for me is exercising!I do pilates, but I believe that any form of exercise must be good, since it releases the stress from the body and increases serotonine.I hope that everything goes well for you and that the change of diet, will give you a solution! :)

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  17. Nicole,

    Thank you so much for writing something like this, and being brave enough to put yourself out there whenever so many people think its something you should keep quiet and be ashamed and embarrassed about. You're bravery has helped me, and I'm sure many others like me who are feeling lost and worried about the future with IBS.

    I've only recently been diagnosed with IBS but have had all of the symptoms for years (since I was 15, I'm now 19) especially during exam times, but its only this year that I've come to university that the flareups have lasted for weeks upon end and I finally got the courage to speak to my GP. I kept thinking that I was being a hypochondriac because there was no clear pattern to my symptoms, and I was embarrassed to talk about them with anyone.

    My condition stopped me applying to jobs/internships because nerves on interview day were guaranteed to send my digestive system crazy, I was uncomfortable in social situations and I struggled with relationships because of the condition. I'm happy that I finally have a diagnosis, but I'm worried about the effect this is going to have on my life in the future if/when it gets worse.

    Blogs like yours are so important because there are so many people that suffer in silence with this, feeling confused about what's going on with their body, and lost because they feel they can't talk to anyone about it. Your experiences have helped me so much, seeing someone that can be so positive and successful while living with IBS! You're an inspiration.
    xx

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  18. Hi Nicole, I too am an ibs sufferer since last 8 yrs. Its really difficult for me to speak freely about this and infact only my parents know about it. I think you've got a lot of guts(oh the unavoidable puns) being so public about this embarrassingly frustrating condition. Earlier I had read about Darren Fletcher going public with his similar(in fact worse) condition and now I read your post. Kudos to you for being so strong. I am sorry .. I am still posting under anonymous. But what u say is absolutely right .. be positive :) Hope I too can get some strength from you to go public. Best of luck!

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  19. Such an honest post, and it's so brave and comforting to know that you can speak up and raise awareness to something that is usually kept quiet. I've been suffering with IBS for 2 years now, and have now become very dependant on medication (which the doctors are saying aren't ideal) so, in attempt to live normally without going through a lot of pain I have recently changed my diet to gluten-free. Eating more whole-foods and following blogs such as http://madeleineshaw.com she is really inspired me to eat more natural foods such as grains, unfortunately I have lost a lot of weight such as yourself and it's never easy to speak about it with people (they always assume it's an eating disorder etc) but I strongly believe cutting out wheat is one of the main sources of getting digestive problems. Have a read and I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me. Best of luck!

    Liv xx

    www.liv-instyle.com

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